Breaking news: ice melts in summer! It’s mid-September and Arctic sea ice extent has reached its normal low point. In an alarmist story, the Arizona Daily Star reports, “Summer ice melt in Arctic growing.” The story says: “Arctic sea ice melted this summer to the second-lowest level since record-keeping began more than 50 years ago, scientists reported Thursday, mostly blaming global warming.” True enough, but so what?
The graph below shows the Arctic sea ice extent in relation to recent years.
Notice that the apparent turn-around has happened earlier than in recent years. What such stories almost never report is what is going on in the Antarctic. This year, the Antarctic sea ice extent is above average. The same thing happened in 2007 when the Arctic sea ice extent reached the lowest extent ever recorded by satellites. At that same time, Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent broke the previous maximum record of 16.03 million sq. km and reached 16.26 million sq. km. [Source: The Cryosphere Today, a publication of The Polar Research Group, University of Illinois]
Fluctuation in the extent of Arctic sea ice is normal and not cause for alarm. According to a study from the University of Copenhagen, “For the last 10,000 years, summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been far from constant. For several thousand years, there was much less sea ice in the Arctic Ocean – probably less than half of current amounts.”
The Star story says, “The summer minimum is a key measurement for scientists monitoring man-made global warming.” Maybe those scientists should look at the whole picture. There are many complicating factors in natural variation, as the Copenhagen study points out.
And, just to put things in perspective, I offer two other reports on Arctic ice:
“A considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been, during the last two years, greatly abated.”
“2000 square leagues [approximately 14,000 square miles or 36,000 square kilometers] of ice with which the Greenland Seas between the latitudes of 74 and 80 N have been hitherto covered, has in the last two years entirely disappeared.” (Royal Society, London. Nov. 20, 1817. Minutes of Council, Vol. 8. pp.149-153)
Or this story:
Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish And Icebergs Melt
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the waters too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway .
Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.
Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are being found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.
This is from an AP story which appeared in the Washington Post, November 2, 1922.
It seems, therefore, that nothing out of the ordinary is happening, including the alarmists’ cry of “Wolf.”
For more background see: